BYU’s prayers answered

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

PROVO-The annual rivalry game between Utah and BYU has gone to the wire the last three years, so it wasn’t a big surprise for this year’s edition hinged on the last two minutes.

In the end, BYU’s Harvey Unga ran the ball 11 yards for a touchdown with 38 seconds left and the Cougars held on for a 17-10 win at Lavell Edwards Stadium on Saturday.”It was devastating,” Utah safety Steve Tate said. “Everything about the game was devastating.”

Down 10-9 and facing a fourth-and-18 at its own 12-yard line, BYU’s Max Hall found an open Austin Collie down the right sideline for a 49-yard gain to keep the Cougars’ game-winning drive alive.

The Utes got a chance to answer from the 50-yard line in the closing seconds of the game, but a pass from quarterback Brian Johnson was batted to the ground in the end zone.

Utah took a 10-9 lead and put pressure on No. 23 BYU late on a one-yard touchdown run from Darrell Mack with 1:34 remaining in the game. But Hall and the Cougars responded with an eight-play, 58-second drive to score the game-winning touchdown.

“Just like last year, we were one play away from finishing the deal and we weren’t able to do it,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said.

Mack’s one-yard dash was the first touchdown of the game for either team as the majority of the game was marred by key penalties and costly turnovers.

BYU quarterback Max Hall threw an interception and running back Harvey Unga fumbled in the first half for the Cougars. When Hall did connect deep with Collie for a 67-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter, an offensive pass interference call negated the play.

Utah’s Brian Johnson, meanwhile, threw two interceptions and completed just five of his 11 passes for 30 yards in the first half. Johnson finished the game completing 17-of-29 passes for 129 yards, but was the focal point of the Utes’ final scoring drive, using both his arm and legs to get Utah down the field.

As a team, Utah recorded only 50 yards of total offense in the opening half despite operating with a short field numerous times.

“They’re not the No. 23 team in the country for no reason, they can play,” Johnson said. “We knew it was gonna be tough sledding in the first quarter, it was gonna be a softening process.”

Late in the second quarter, Utah middle linebacker Joe Jiannoni intercepted a Max Hall pass and returned it to the BYU 16-yard line. But on the ensuing drive, the Cougars Jan Jorgensen hit Johnson as he released the ball and BYU’s Corby Hodgekiss intercepted the errant ball at the five-yard line.

“The way to help out a secondary is with a ferocious front seven, which is what (BYU) had,” Whittingham said. “If you’ve got a good front seven, you can live with a secondary that’s not as good as you’d like.”

The Utes came out in the latter half and nearly drove the length of the field on the opening drive, but a holding penalty and a sack forced them to settle on a 35-yard field goal to make the score 6-3.

Utah finished the game with 10 penalties for 94 yards-nearly double that of BYU-in front of a raucous BYU crowd. Two of the penalties came on the Cougars’ final drive of the game.

Unga proved to be the Cougars’ biggest weapon. The freshman finished with 141 rushing yards and one touchdown despite spraining his ankle just before halftime.

The win gave BYU it second consecutive Mountain West Conference championship. BYU will go for its second straight MWC sweep next week against San Diego State. For the Utes, they will await a Bowl bid.

“We didn’t play well by any means, but the guts we displayed and the gumption we displayed is something to be proud of in itself,” Johnson said. “It tears your guts out when you lose like this, but we battled to the end.”

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Ty Cobb

The BYU defense knocks down the Utes’ final hail marry pass to Marquis Wilson. The Cougars went on to win the game 17-10 and took home sole possession of the MWC crown.